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Trainer Gordon Elliott has been banned for six months and ordered to pay costs of €15,000 following IHRB hearing

DUBLIN: Following a disciplinary hearing yesterday by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB), trainer Gordon Elliott has been suspended from training for 12 months, with six months suspended and ordered to pay costs of €15,000.

Grand National-winning trainer Elliott (42) was subjected to the hearing as part of an investigation into a picture of him sitting on a dead horse that circulated on social media last weekend.

The IHRB referral committee found that Elliott violated rules 272(i) of the Rules of Racing and the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Rules. The committee affirms that Elliott acted in a manner which prejudice the integrity, “proper conduct and good reputation” of the sport.

The ban which comes into effect on 9 March will now rule the Meath native out of April’s Aintree Grand National. Elliott will not be able to send horses in his name from his base at Cullentra House at the Cheltenham Festival, which begins on 16 March. The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has ordered owners to hand over their horses to another trainer before 9 March to compete at the festival.

Following the hearing, Elliott released a statement: “I am paying a very heavy price for my error but I have no complaints. It breaks my heart to see the hurt I have caused to my colleagues, family, friends and supporters. I have a long road ahead of me but I will serve my time and then build back better.

“Horses are my life. I love them. No one comes into racing for money – it is a hard way to make a living. We are here because we love the horses. Anyone who has visited my stables at Cullentra will see the meticulous care with which we treat our horses. I was disrespectful to a dead horse, an animal that had been a loyal servant to me and was loved by my staff.

“I will carry the burden of my transgressions for the rest of my career. I will never again disrespect a horse living or dead and I will not tolerate it in others.

“Finally I want to thank my owners and my staff who, despite being let down by me, have been unstinting in their support. I will vindicate their faith in me.”

The IHRB committee, made up of three members, noted that Elliott had “accepted that his conduct was ‘disgraceful’, ‘horrific’ and ‘wholly inappropriate and distasteful’.” The committee also said that Elliott fully co-operated with the IHRB throughout the investigation.

The IHRB statement reads: “We consider that a suspension of Mr Elliott’s training licence is merited. In all of the circumstances of this case, to reflect the seriousness of the offence and the damage to the Irish racing industry, to deter other offences of this nature and having taken into account the mitigating factors we have heard we consider the period should be 12 months however the last six months of this will be suspended.

The Committee also notes that Mr Elliott has stated to the Committee that he will not attend a Race meeting or a Point to Point for 6 months and we accept that helpful course. We also accede to the application for costs by the IHRB in the sum of €15,000. The commencement date for sanction will by agreement be 9 March 2021.”

The British Horseracing Authority said: “We welcome the fact that the Irish authorities have acted swiftly. The suspension will be reciprocated here in Great Britain. The existing restriction on Mr Elliott having runners in Great Britain will stay in place until the suspension takes effect on 9 March.”

“Today’s decision confirms that horses will not be able to run at the Cheltenham Festival or Grand National Festival in the name of Gordon Elliott. However, if horses are transferred directly to other licensed trainers prior to 9 March – when the suspension is due to commence – they will be able to run,” the BHA said in a statement.

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